“Plant Wisdom Mural” Community Painting with Camila Leiva
The Anderson Center at Tower View invites community members of all ages to join public artist Camila Leiva in the creation process of a large-scale Plant Wisdom Mural to be installed on the lower portion of the north wall of the building at 305 Plum Street in downtown Red Wing. Community paint sessions are happening at Artreach on Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Anderson Center North Studios on Tuesday, July 12 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Individuals or groups interested in participating are welcome to drop in during those times or contact Anderson Center Program Director Adam Wiltgen to schedule a shift to help paint the mural.
The mural’s design will be painted onto polytab fabric, a canvas-like material, in Camila’s studio and in community paint sessions at Artreach and the Anderson Center. Then, in late August, the painted fabric will be installed at its final location on the stucco portion of the wall behind the trellis fence adjacent to the Del Dankers Pocket Garden in a manner similar to applying wallpaper.
Camila spent the entire month of May 2021 developing the Plant Wisdom Mural project as part of the Anderson Center’s First Step Public Artist Residency Program, which aims to serve as a catalyst for social action and relationship building in Red Wing. The daughter of a Minnesotan mother and a Chilean father, Leiva is a self-described bridge-builder. “I feel like I am from both places,” Camila shares. This space of in-betweenness helps her build community across difference, and she brings that to her art practice. Leiva grew up with the Chilean concept of art as a collective process rather than the traditional image of an artist working solo. To her, “The beauty of art is when it’s done in the community.”
During her 2021 residency in Red Wing, Camila engaged with the public through open studio events at Artreach. She also facilitated workshops with a committee of representatives from Hispanic Outreach, Goodhue County Master Gardeners, and the Land & Environment Department at Prairie Island Indian Community where, as Camila explains, “the group brainstormed personal histories and memories with regards to plants, herbs, fruits and flowers with healing and nourishing qualities.” The stories community members shared with Camila directly informed the various plants and baskets featured in the final mural design.
Celebrating the Red Wing area’s diversity of plant and garden knowledge through a large-scale mural brings attention to the beauty of the natural world and cultivates understanding by sharing that knowledge with the broader community. The Plant Wisdom Mural’s proximity to the Del Dankers Pocket Garden enhances an existing asset, encourages walkability, and marks the place as a site of meaning-making. Lastly, Camila’s community-driven process teaches creative problem solving, inter-generational learning, and community service through hands-on art-making.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through Creative Support Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.